York Regional Police have hauled hundreds of marijuana plants out of a Markham corn field, but they have yet to determine who planted them.
A group of plants were spotted in a field near Elgin Mills and Highway 48 earlier this week by officers who were out conducting some patrol work in a police helicopter.
"What we look for in the corn fields is a pattern difference in the corn," said Jay McMackin, a tactical flight officer with the York Regional Police air support unit.
"So someone's got to come in and actually physically cut out corn and plant the marijuana for it to grow into that space."
Police found more plants as they investigated further.
Const. Blair McQuillan told CBC News that police found about 350 plants, which are tpically worth about $1,000 each when sold.
McQuillan said it's the first outdoor grow-op that police have located in York Region so far this year.
But he expects to see more in the coming weeks as the harvest season arrives.
McMackin said police have seen a decline in the number of outdoor grow-ops in York Region in recent years, a trend he attributes in part to the use of police helicopter patrols.
"It’s so easy for us to find it and we find it so fast and quick that they lose their product," he said.
"So they don’t try to plant it as often in York Region, I find."
Police will now focus on learning more about how the marijuana got planted in the field and who is responsible for it.
McQuillan said there are several possible reasons why the unknown suspects may have chosen to plant their crop in the corn field where it was found.
"In this particular field, we’re away from the road, there is a trail that leads into this location that is very rough, people are not going to be traversing this," he said.
Because corn had been planted at the site, the owners of the legitimate crop would not be expected to return to the site until later in the harvest season.
"It’s given an opportunity for these (marijuana) plants to grow, they’re out of sight," said McQuillan.